UGA arrives in Orlando for Jan. 1 bowl game
By MARC WEISZER
Morris News Service
ORLANDO, Fla. – The way Arthur Lynch sees it, if Georgia didn’t make it to Miami for the BCS title game, wherever the Bulldogs landed would have been fine with him.
So he has no problem with the Bulldogs spending the holiday season getting ready for the Capital One Bowl instead of a BCS game like the Sugar Bowl.
Playing Nebraska on New Year’s Day may not have had Georgia fans jumping up and down, but the Bulldogs arrive today in Orlando ready for a week of fun, sun and practices leading up to Tuesday’s 1 p.m game.
Bulldogs players will have a chance to hit the theme parks at Universal Studios today and Disney World on Saturday.
They can be fans themselves watching Virginia Tech play Rutgers on Friday in the Russell Athletic Bowl, which used to be the Champs Sports Bowl.
“I like for our players to enjoy the bowl experience,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “I want to win, and we’re going to have our meetings and our practices set up to where we’re going to get the work done that we need to get done. We try to get it done early enough in the day that they have the majority of the day to go enjoy the events. I don’t mind them going out and having fun; I don’t even look at it as a distraction. I look at it as a reward.”
Kenarious Gates, the 6-foot-5, 318-pound junior offensive tackle for Georgia, is ready for the roller coasters. He’s just hoping for better luck than he had last summer at Six Flags near Atlanta when he tried to get on the Batman and Superman rides.
“None of the rides would fit me because my shoulders were too big,” Gates said. “I’m going to go try it. I love roller coasters. I’m not afraid of heights. I like to have fun, so hopefully I can get on some rides.”
Players will get a chance to shop until they drop on Sunday night at Best Buy, or rather, until they spend their $470 bowl limit. They also will receive an $80 commemorative watch as a gift from the bowl.
Georgia resumes bowl practices tonight and will hold five total in Orlando before Tuesday’s game. The team will practice at Celebration High School in nearby Kissimmee.
Nebraska is leaving this afternoon from Lincoln on a team charter flight and will practice for the first time on site on Thursday morning at Freedom High School.
“It’s a fun trip,” Georgia freshman tailback Todd Gurley said. “I’m just ready to go down there and just enjoy it and also take care of business as far as practice and trying to win the game.”
Lynch is among some Georgia players who hit the Orlando amusement parks when they played in the Under Armour all-star game as high school seniors.
He got a chance to go to the Capital One Bowl then when Georgia beat Michigan State 24-12 at the end of the 2008 season.
“My family made a trip out of it,” said senior linebacker Christian Robinson, who redshirted that season. “They stayed at Disney World for three days while they were down there and had a great time. For families and for the team, it’s just a fun experience.”
Tight end Jay Rome said he made annual AAU basketball trips to Orlando from his hometown in Valdosta.
“I’ve been to all the parks down there,” Rome said. “Hopefully it’s going to be warm enough down there to get on some of the water rides.”
The forecast calls for temperatures later in the week to be in the upper 60s and into the 70s.
“It’s as good, if not the very best, bowl experience we’ve had as a team,” Richt said. “I think our players will enjoy everything. I know our players enjoyed it back in 2008 after that season. I know the coaches’ wives and children enjoy it as well.”